Citadele Bank (Lithuania)

Online Shopping and Scammers: Frequent Mistakes By Shoppers

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As online shopping grows in popularity, banks are increasingly receiving requests from scammed shoppers to cancel or return payments.

What are the most typical mistakes made by customers when shopping online? Tips on how to avoid mistakes to ensure that online shopping is safe, by Kaspars Briška, Citadele’s Head of IT Security.

Untested, untrustworthy vendors

Before shopping in unknown online stores, always check the vendor’s information: does the online store have an address, what is the business’ name, registration number, phone number. You can also call them, for example, to check whether the vendor has a return policy and what it entails. The more integrated payment options the store offers, the more it can be trusted. You should also search for reviews of the vendor outside of the online store itself. Shopping via a well-known online store’s mobile app is just as secure as shopping on a computer.

Remember that, when you pay via transfer from your online bank, the bank will be unable to help if there are any problems with the vendor. For card payments, clients are able to submit a request for a bank investigation on specific transactions, but bear in mind that transactions can only be investigated no later than 120 days from the payment date.

For investigating card payments, exact information is important, so we recommend that you save the purchase confirmation, information on delivery terms, your communications with the vendor, and, if the product was returned to the vendor, a postage receipt or return document, as these may be needed to enable your money to be returned.

Unbelievably cheap and sensational discounts

Products that are much cheaper than those offered by other vendors are tempting, but untrustworthy. Most likely, extremely cheap, amazing discounts are just a hook for catching careless shoppers. In the best-case scenario, you will receive your goods, but you will be disappointed with how they compare with what you saw online; in the worst-case scenario, you will have neither your money nor the goods you ordered. However, a high price is not a guarantee of receiving your original goods, so it is important to evaluate each online store you shop at.

Fake links

Do not click on advertising links. Rather, enter the online store address in your browser window. Look for the key or locked padlock icon in the address bar or to the left of the URL. Never buy from websites without at least an SSL certificate. HTTPS is now standard. If a vendor’s website contains links to social media accounts or its partners’ websites, ensure that these links are active and that, when you click on them, the correct site opens. Check whether the vendor's social media accounts are active and how long they have been operating for.

Advisors - scammers

We often encounter situations when clients make payments on websites based on offers received by phone from scammers, for example, to purchase cryptocurrency or invest in financial instruments. Remember: if you want to invest, only go through licensed financial market participants. Never give your card details or online banking details to third persons, and do not install any programmes offered by scammers on devices which you use for payments.

Using public WiFi

Don’t do any shopping using public WiFi networks or public computers. To ensure that your personal information, passwords and payment information are not stolen, use secure and personal WiFi or mobile networks and devices. Avoid shopping in public places such as cafes. Not everyone around you will be honest, and you never know when you are being watched.

Main card or using all your cards

When you shop online, you are better off using a credit card or integrated payment methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Klix. For online shopping, it is best to use a card which is not the main card linked to your bank account. Take the opportunity in your bank app to define your cards’ terms of use. For example, in the Citadele app, you can set the usage region and whether online shopping is enabled for each card.

It is best not to use every card you have for online shopping. Have a look at your credit card options, as many of these offer purchase protection.

You should certainly activate notifications for transaction for all your cards, so that you can see any non-sanctioned payments instantly. Let your bank know immediately if you notice any transactions which you did not make. Use the option of blocking your card in your banking app or online bank if you have any suspicion that your card number has fallen into someone else’s hands.

Saving payment information

Think carefully. With how many vendors have you saved your payment information? Whenever possible, avoid saving your payment details in every online store you visit to avoid unpleasant surprises when your details have been accessed by scammers. Regularly monitor your account statement so that, if a transaction was not made by you, you can contact your bank to let them know that your information is in the hands of scammers.

Use your consumer rights and inform scam monitoring and rights protection institutions, as well as your bank, about dishonest vendors.